Marco Island considers city ambulance service, talks to Naples leaders

Marco Island city councilor Jerry Gibson.


Marco Island city councilor Jerry Gibson.

Paul Anderson

Paul Anderson

Sunday Oct. 2

8 a.m. Friend takes Paul Anderson, 80, to Marco Urgent Care Center.

8:30 a.m. Approximate time Anderson arrives at urgent care center.

8:45 a.m. Friend walks into nearby Marco fire station for help at urgent care center.

8:48 a.m. Collier County Medic Rescue 50 ambulance dispatched to urgent care center.

8:54 a.m. Battalion Chief advises to hold call. Medic Rescue 50 placed on standby in station.

9:02 a.m. Medic Rescue 50 canceled.

9:03 a.m. Battalion Chief says NCH ambulance will transport Anderson.

9:18 a.m. Second 911 call comes in of an 80-year-old male having difficulty breathing, high blood pressure at Marco Urgent Care Center. Collier County Medic Rescue 90 ambulance dispatched.

9:19 a.m. Collier County Tower 50 firefighter/paramedic unit dispatched to Marco Urgent Care Center.

9:21 a.m. Medic Rescue 90 arrives, placed on standby.

9:22 a.m. Anderson’s friend says NCH ambulance driver arrives for 9 a.m. shift.

9:26 a.m. Confusion about a second patient

9:32 a.m. Medflight is requested.

9:36 a.m. Medflight is put on standby. Tower 50 assists with loading Anderson in NCH transport ambulance. Paramedic rides with NCH unit.

9:40 a.m. Medic Rescue 90 advises that there was only one patient and he was transported to NCH.

Monday, Oct. 3

Paul Anderson dies.

— A lingering fear among Marco Island residents following the death of an 80-year-old man who waited 54 minutes for an ambulance has renewed interest in a separate emergency transit system for the city.

At a recent Marco Island City Council meeting, council members asked Marco Island Fire Chief Mike Murphy to continue looking into the possibility of providing its own service to the city while partnering with other fire departments to share resources.

Murphy will begin providing regular reports at council meetings, updating the public on his progress.

"We're looking to improve the system as it currently exists and have potentially a greater impact on services in rural and urban areas in this county, using existing resources within fire rescue agencies," Murphy said.

Council Chairman Jerry Gibson said his colleagues first asked Murphy to look into the possibility of an expanded service before the October episode that left Paul Anderson dead.

Marco Island has relied on Collier County's ambulance service and the NCH Healthcare System for patient transport. Council first asked Murphy to look into the possibility of a separate system in September when members learned the NCH ambulances didn't carry a full range of emergency drugs, like the county ambulance vehicles do.

After Anderson's death, Murphy said he started exploring a service with two Naples-area fire departments, which also have considered serving their respective jurisdictions in place of the county EMS.

"We sat down with the city (Marco officials) and with the Naples and North Naples (fire departments) and are exploring the creation of a potential business plan to provide transport services with the county being the fourth partner," Murphy said.

Naples City Manager Bill Moss said Naples has had conversations with Marco Island but hasn't yet decided to provide its own city ambulance service.

"We have talked to (Marco Island), but we need some more analysis of the cost," Moss said. "We've been evaluating whether there is any merit with working with other communities."

A state investigation is pending in Anderson's case, but Gibson said the need for a new system is more apparent after the death.

"Any time a citizen dies — and for me it's quite obvious it was not handled correctly that day, and I think anybody who just accepts at face value the things that are said, that doesn't bring that man back to life — it's incumbent on any public official to want to examine that," Gibson said.

Anderson suffered a stroke Oct. 2 and waited nearly an hour for transport from NCH Marco Island Healthcare Center, where a friend had taken him, to NCH Downtown Naples Hospital.

According to reports, there was confusion as to whether an NCH transport crew or Collier EMS ambulance would transport Anderson to the NCH Downtown Naples Hospital. Anderson ultimately was transported by the NCH vehicle, but died the next day.

"There is no doubt that the October incident is a topic of conversation everywhere you go in this community and even outside of this community," Murphy said. "So it is of concern."

NCH has since pulled out of the transport business. Officials announced that decision Oct. 21, leaving Marco Island without an immediate alternative, Gibson said.

"That added fuel to the fire," he said. "They made a decision on a Friday afternoon to do away with their transport program with no notice, no warning, and left the county to scramble to make sure we had coverage. I don't think that decision took into consideration perhaps that it could exacerbate the situation here on Marco Island."

Collier County Manager Leo Ochs said after NCH's announcement that he, too, was unaware of NCH's decision until it was made public.

In its prepared statement, NCH said: "We have found that NCH having its own transportation service may have led to varying interpretations as to who is responsible for transport."

On Oct. 25, Collier County commissioners gave approval for a private ambulance company to begin work in the county.

Ambitrans Medical Transport, a Charlotte County-based company, has been working in the county transporting patients to medical centers outside of the county and was looking to expand its services.

Gibson said there are many issues that need to be discussed and reviewed before progress can be made toward a separate transport system that it is economically feasible, but the need is urgent.

"There's a high level of frustration on this island and a fear on this island," Gibson said. "I don't think people feel as safe as they used to."

© 2011 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Related Topics

Related Stories

Related Links

Comments » 9

marco826 writes:

Our citizens safety is of the utmost importance but once again city council runs to spend money they don't have. Yes,the event concerning Mr. Anderson was tragic and avoidable. Yes, Marco needs to make sure that doesn't happen again. Yes, there are solutions without major additional expense to our city.
No Mr. Gibson. You are wrong. In fact, you are creating fear.
"There's a high level of frustration on this island and a fear on this island," Gibson said. "I don't think people feel as safe as they used to."

ajm3s writes:

Mr. Gibson is entitled to his opinion, but to peddle fear is not a responsible answer to a simple problem that is being exacerbated by local fire departments attempting to play the role of a county medical director.

Remember, the 911 system is to be used for emergencies. It is not to used as a transport system for normal daily transfer of patients between health care centers with non-life threatening conditions.

When the Fire Chief of Marco Island complains of a host of issues, he may in fact, be preparing the folks to pay for EMS level services for defined non-life threatening services, which most of the private and hospital ambulance companies can provide.

I believe we need to clearly define the problem: County EMS dispatch protocol!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So do not fall victim to expanding local municipal ambulance services because quite frankly they cannot compete on a cost basis with private services.

Match the level of service with the conditions at hand that require transport. I for one do not believe we need to provide EMS 911 transport for non-life threatening patients. DO NOT ALLOW municipalities to create a hodgepodge of local communities attempting to provide services for a wide area. That is why an EMS county provider was created, so are we to now return to a condition of decades past, or now to have response from an amalgamation of the city of Naples, North Naples and Marco Island?

So Isle of Capri, East Naples etc are out?

I never forgot this commentary from an emergency care physician!

Watch out, this is an emergency!

captnjimbo writes:

I agree...over reacting to a snafu that can be remedied is probably not the best choice and duplicating a system that has seemed to serve us well is probablly premature. We pay taxes to the county, we should hold them accountable to provide the services they have promised.

JohninMarco writes:

Note to Mr Gibson, if the county spent 10% of what they spent on the new landscaping along 951 heading towards the new bridge, we the residents would now have a state of the art 911 system in place. But as usual for Collier Co. as well as Marco Island, monies are spent on flowers, trees and bushes instead of necessary services.

Joe_Btfsplk writes:

Cost? 2 vehicles @ $250,000 for $500,000? Facility to keep vehicles $1,000,000? 2 people per shift to staff vehicle - 4 shifts = 8 direct labor staff; supervision and overhead; materials and training. Initial capital cost of $2,000,000; ongoing annual budget of over $1,000,000 per year. What are the incremental benefits?

marco826 writes:

Vote Gibson out! He is an alarmist!!!
someone who is considered to be exaggerating a danger and so causing needless worry or panic.
creating needless worry or panic : alarmist rumors. scaremonger, doomster, doomsayer,

ajm3s writes:

And let us not forget earlier this year, how several other physicians saw the erosion of good emergency care policy being decided upon by the Collier commissioners.

Do not allow Fire Chiefs of some surrounding communities to dismantle the Collier County EMS as a "solution" to take control in the "interest" of its own folks.

Wake up folks, this is a power war of amongst fire districts, which is standard practice. We should be demanding an adherence to medically based protocols.

WARNING: When your elected representatives and fire chiefs begin to control the discussion by peddling fear, watch out. They have succumbed to instilling fear and emotion as a means to contaminate the discussion of emergency medical care management and apportionment of resources.

Unless, you want your medical advise from a group of fire district chiefs. Again, I ask, is there a doctor in the house? We have an emergency!

deltarome writes:

Murphy always has a manpower increase solution looking for a problem.

happyhorowitz34145 writes:

Jerry Gibson!!! Are you hitting the bottle again?
It is an absolute shame that a gentleman like Mr. Anderson passed away, but to run around like Chicken Little,spouting "people are dying out there", "people are dying out there" is pathetic for a city councelor.
Put the blame where it lies, With NCH and our poor excuse of a once fairly decent emergency center.
Then again is this a way for Smurphy to increase his department?
Hey, wait a minute! Gerry's right. How's Murphy going to save lives if he can't figure out how to get a gurney across a shell diveway?

Share your thoughts

Comments are the sole responsibility of the person posting them. You agree not to post comments that are off topic, defamatory, obscene, abusive, threatening or an invasion of privacy. Violators may be banned. Click here for our full user agreement.

Comments can be shared on Facebook and Yahoo!. Add both options by connecting your profiles.